What is the difference between the imperfect and the preterite in Spanish?

  • Google+ icon
  • LinkedIn icon
  • 760 views

The imperfect tense in Spanish is used to refer to an action that was ongoing in the past. For example, you would use the imperfect to say something like: 

Yo iba a tu casa cada semana. 

Note that this was an action happening habitually in the past, and therefore spread out over a certain period of time. In contrast, the preterite is used to express an action which is instant and has happened at a specific moment. For instance:

Ayer yo vi a Maria. 

I saw Maria yesterday. This is an action that happened at a specific time (being yesterday) and once-it is not described as a regular, ongoing action. Additionally, it is very instant. 

Irini P. GCSE French tutor, A Level French tutor, GCSE Spanish tutor,...

About the author

is an online GCSE Spanish tutor with MyTutor studying at Durham University

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist.

95% of our customers rate us

Browse tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok